A bicycle is more than a pair of wheels. This is what we hear from our Qhubeka beneficiaries time and time again.
In South Africa, where there is an official unemployment rate of almost 28% and widespread poverty and inequality continue to plague the country, recent statistics show that working class families are spending less on groceries because of the rising costs of electricity and transport.
According to the Household Affordability Index, published by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, working class households in Pietermaritzburg (with an average monthly income of 3 024 ZAR, or roughly 205 USD) are spending 24% less on groceries. The basic necessities of transport and electricity absorb 58.7% of their budgets.
According to the South African Child Gauge 2018, 36% (7 million) children are living below the “food poverty line”, meaning that they do not get enough nutrition (based on the cost of the minimum nutritional requirement of 2 100 kilocalories per person per day, without any allowance for non-food basic necessities).
Poorer families are cutting down on groceries when many already don’t get the nutrition they need. Providing bicycles helps people to cut down on their transport costs, thus freeing up income to spend on necessities – like food. Click to Tweet.
The impact of a bicycle is immediate. Aside from saving on transport costs, it also helps people to expend less energy (as riding a bicycle is more efficient than walking) and to save time (riding a bicycle is up to 75% quicker compared to time spent walking).
This is why we believe bicycles change lives.
Of course, a bicycle isn’t a magic fix, and we work with other partners in government, NGOs, communities and companies to help to meet beneficiaries’ needs holistically. Within the communities in which we operate, there are also other organisations doing great work. For example, there are feeding schemes in place in many of the rural schools in the Greater Giyani and Okhahlamba regions, and many of the families we interact with rely on a government child support grant to survive.
Nevertheless, bicycles have a far-reaching effect on communities, helping people to travel further and faster, and to carry more… to travel more safely, to access schools, clinics and jobs, and to create opportunities.